The House Ways and Means Committee approved its version of the gambling legislation last night keeping the changes made by the Senate intact, but taking steps to further reduce the tax rate of certain existing casinos over the next couple of years. The bill will be debated on the floor of the House of Delegates this afternoon. As reported by the Baltimore Sun (limited free views available):
Among other changes, the Maryland Live casino at Arundel Mills would see its tax rate cut from the current 67 percent to 51 percent over the next couple of years — with an option to bring it down to 49 percent if an independent commission agreed.
That’s a larger guaranteed cut than under O’Malley’s bill, which would reduce the rate to 56 percent, with the option to go to 51 percent. The casino would have to take over the cost of buying slot machines and spend about half of the tax break on marketing, promotion and capital investment.
…the planned Baltimore casino, to be operated by a group led by Caesars Entertainment, would see its tax rate go from 67 percent to 54 percent — with the option to ask the commission to cut it to 51 percent. O’Malley’s draft had reduced the rate to 56 percent, with the option of going to 51 percent.Caesars, which runs many other casinos, would get a smaller break because it can buy slot machines at discounted rates and because its Baltimore casino is further away from the planned Prince George’s county site.
The House committee also agreed to let the Hollywood Casino Perryville make a case to the commission to have 5 percentage points cut from its tax rate. Under O’Malley’s proposal, that casino’s tax rate would drop from the current 67 percent to 61 percent to compensate for a new requirement that the company take over the cost of buying slot machines. Under the House changes, the rate could drop to 56 percent if the commission agreed.
The House panel did not change the proposed tax rates in O’Malley’s bill for the state’s other casinos.
It is anticipated that the Senate will accept the changes adopted by the House Committee.
Additional Special Session coverage of the gambling legislation can be found on Conduit Street and in the following publications: